Before you accept that some things are impossible.

Silence. No sound. In her bag: granola bars, hope, bottles of water, instant ice packs, pride, and band aids. Nothing that can soothe the child’s anxiety, the lopsided stomach…all highstrung momentum.

The calm before the calamity, a ball kicked up up up up and over the heads of all defensive players…the arc of its path aiming at the goalkeeper. The keeper: a lone man, isolated, mouth stretched wide in ghastly determination, crouched, then sprung, lifted impossibly sideways. The bruised fingertips grazing the ball to keep it from earning a point. The clapping, and shouting, “Good, Keeper! Good, Keeper!” She knows this good keeper will not hear any of this…he is already advancing to throw the ball in, already calculating where to place foot, leg, torso, mind.

So there are saves, and there are losses. The losses are extreme. Outsized. A ball goes in and she shouts, “Good try, Keeper!” She watches him pull at his hair, his chest heave with the effort to not sob. She watches him crouch in the net, waiting alone for the next ball to punish or redeem him.

Silence. No sound. After the game. Out of her bag comes a portion of praise. “You were so good. You made so many saves.” He frowns. Then: “I should have kept that second point out.” She explains life. There are things that are not possible. There are things that cannot be prevented. “There was no way to prevent the ball from going in, son.” She explains physics. An acrobat could not have contorted and lifted their body to have stopped the ball. The mother explains all this. Her son listens. Nods. Then says: “I should have kept that second point out.”

The good keeper.
The good keeper.